Calling all feminists: stop shaming yourself for feeling body shame
I’m a feminist who, at times, hates on her body (think: cellulite, a stomach that sticks out no matter what YouTube core strengtheners I do, and ingrown hairs that are, as luck would have it, the result of waxing and shaving to appear more, um, feminine and flawless). And guess what? Many of my fellow feminist goddesses harp on similar “trivialities”.
One thing I’ve learned is that we’re all a lot harder on ourselves than on others, especially where our body politics are concerned.
Maybe in some 20th wave feminist utopia, people of any and all genders will be so far beyond this self-critical child’s play that still rules us that we’ll be too busy in bliss to notice anything but the quality of one another’s energetic halos. Until then, guess what? Even the most intersectional, bad bitch feminists live in the world as we know it.
Change if you wanna
The reality is, the pressures to conform to our society’s beauty standards are multi-layered and run very deep—with a long history behind them which enforces a general sense that these standards are fundamentally legitimate. It becomes difficult, or even impossible to tell which aesthetic choices we make in order to live up to society’s expectations, versus which ones are “authentic” and therefore “legitimate,” contributing meaningfully to our in-depth sense of gorgeousness. As far as I can tell, trying to tell these behaviours apart is a ridiculous AF waste of time, because they are crazy intertwined, and that’s totally ok.
Annnnnd, if you believe people shouldn’t be so hung up on their physical appearance (especially those attributes they can’t control), and that they definitely shouldn’t let gender norms dictate how they dress or eat or exercise, but you still can’t stop grimacing every time you catch a glimpse of your thigh dimples in the mirror, guess what? You’re human, and you’re not living in a bubble of pure hearts and minds. You are a beauteous creature, full of desire, delight, and intrigue, who just so happens to be sensitive and responsive to the flawed world around you. Don’t change. Unless you want to, of course. The beauty of feminism: it's pro-choice, baby.
Examine your judgments of others
I know I said we’re harder on ourselves than others, but the truth is, those silent judgments of other people's bodies slip in there sometimes, don’t they? For some people more than others. And they’re profoundly connected to our judgments of ourselves. When you judge someone for getting plastic surgery, wearing high heels, being too “skinny,” working out too much, dressing “slutty,” wearing a hijab, or wearing clothes that we deem unflattering to their body type, we may (sometimes) think that we are rejecting certain theoretical societal ideals we choose to identify with, but these judgments can truly have the opposite effect. There is already enough body policing going on. What the world needs now, is love, self-love.
Remember, many of us engage in a zillion tiny behaviours that might be perceived as mainstream-conformist. It's just that some of them have become a lot more normalized than others (ie, shaving, wearing makeup, or plucking eyebrows, for example). Live and let live, darlings. Do what makes you feel good, not what makes you feel bad; the truth is, only you can tell the difference.
A healthy body & mind is the sexiest thing
Ok, this may seem eye-rolly and cliché, but listen here, nonetheless: zero judgments if you eat junk food or hate exercise or smoke cigarettes, and I mean that. However, if you are ever looking for a surefire way to boost your attractiveness (to yourself, and by extension, to others), taking steps to better your health will have an undeniable effect. Because exercise and good food and enough sleep and tackling any addictions that may be taking up too much space in your life are all ways of showing yourself some real love. Start with just one thing, like getting enough sleep, and see how that one thing affects you. And expand out from there if you’re feeling it.
Here's the deal
Bottom line: we are thinkers, many of us feminist-types. But at times we believe too strongly that we possess lists of dos and don’ts that somehow apply to human beings’ lives—human beings, who live in a state of constant flux and transformation, and who are made up of stars and grains of sand, and drops of rain. You get the idea. So when we are inflexible, we do ourselves a disservice. Because we deserve to present ourselves however we please, whenever we please. You deserve to change your look and your mind tomorrow if that’s the way the wind is blowing.
Cover Image Source: Coucou Suzette